Raphael Wallfisch

”No British cellist has done more to advocate British composers than Raphael Wallfisch… throughout all three works, Wallfisch’s playing evinces that attention to detail, tonal finesse and understated conviction which has long made him an exponent of new and unfamiliar music…” International Record Review


Raphael Wallfisch


The outstanding British cellist, Raphael Wallfisch was born in 1953 into a family of distinguished musicians, his mother the cellist, Anita  Lasker Wallfisch, and his father the pianist, Peter Wallfisch.  From an early age, Raphael was fortunate to be guided by the fine teaching of Amaryllis Fleming, Amedeo Baldovino and  then Derek Simpson at the Royal Academy of Music. Subsequently, Raphael was given the unique opportunity to study with the great cellist, Gregor Piatigorsky at USC in Los Angeles. Whilst there he was often invited to play chamber music with the legendary violinist Jascha Heifetz. During that period 1973-75, he was also honoured to be invited to play Aaron Copland’s  solo cello pieces in the presence of the composer.

At the age of 24, Raphael won first prize at the International Cassado Cello Competition in Florence. He is the only British string player to have ever won an International Competition. Since then, he has enjoyed a world-wide career playing with such orchestras as London Symphony, London Philharmonic, Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, English Chamber Orchestra, City of Birmingham, Halle, Royal Scottish, Konzerthaus Orchestra Berlin, Westdeutscher Rundfunk, Gewandhaus Leipzig, Minnesota Orchestra, LA Philharmonic, Indianopis Symphony, Warsaw and Czech Philharmonic and countless others. Frequent appearances at International Festivals have included The BBC Proms, Edinburgh, Aldeburgh, Spoleto, Prague Autumn, Prades, Oslo, Adelaide, and Schleswig Holstein.

Teaching is one of  Raphael Wallfisch’s passions. He has given Masterclasses all over the world and has held professorships in Zurich and Mainz. Currently, Raphael is professor at the Royal college of Music in London. He was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music and the Guildhall School of Music for his services to British music making.

Widely recognised as the world’s most recorded cellis, his astonishing discography of more than eighty albums are on labels such as EMI, Chandos, Lyrita, Nimbus, CPO,ASV, Naxos and Dutton. Many of these highly acclaimed recordings are with his duo partner of more than thirty years, John York.

This  extraordinary discography includes music by 46 British composers as well as Dvorak, Brahms, Beethoven, Schumann, Martinu, Shostakovich, Strauss, Dohnanyi, Bartok, Seiber, Vivaldi, CPE Bach, Spohr, Weber, Prokofiev, Schedrin, Respighi, Weinberg, Hindemith, Bloch, Caplet Khachaturian, Kabalevsky, etc.

For the German label CPO , Raphael recorded a highly acclaimed series of concerti by eight Exiled Jewish composers with the Konzerthaus Orchestra Berlin, BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the Kristiansand Symphony, Denmark.
His most recent releases on CPO and Naxos, are concertos by B Romberg, sonatas by Martinu, and the complete cello music of Miaskovsky.

In the 2015/16 season, Raphael was the cello soloist in the highly acclaimed new ballet, “ELIZABETH” with the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden. this featured the great dancers, Carlos Acosta and Zenaida Yanowsky in the main roles. Following the huge success of this work further performances were given at the Barbican Centre in London in 2018. On International Holocaust Day in 2018, Raphael was invited to play to the assembled German Parliament in Berlin.

Raphael greatly enjoys his work with Trio Shaham Erez Wallfisch, and in 2020 they were invited to play the complete Beethoven piano trios at Wigmore Hall, in London. Their recordings on Nimbus and concerts worldwide have been received with the highest critical acclaim.

Most recently, a very exciting major new work has been written for Raphael and Sir Simon Keenlyside  by Jonathan Dove. Scored for the unusual forces of cello, baritone and orchestra  “In Exile” is a setting of poems of Exile by various authors. The cello representing the wordless spirit of the exile. This will be premiered at the 2021 Enescu International Festival, and subsequently by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

Other leading British composers that have written for or worked closely with Raphael include, Richard Rodney Bennett, GilesSwayne, James Macmillan, Kenneth Leighton, Peter Maxwell Davies, John Joubert, Robert Simpson, Richard Blackford, Paul Patterson, John Taverner and Adrian Williams.
Raphael plays on the “ex Romberg” Montagnana 1733.

Raphael Wallfisch plays on a Romberg Montagnana and a 1760 Gennaro Gagliano.



This biography is valid until September 2018


“Mr. Wallfisch brought the house down with a tremendous display of considerable interpretive substance… The performance was a marvellous success.”

Calgary Herald

“… In Raphael Wallfisch’s hands it had a joyful charm and ease… the soloist’s multiple-string chords and rapid changes of register were negotiated effortlessly… Wallfisch’s tone was full and sweet. The rapid passagework was nimble but also had tuneful presence… He made light work of the virtuosities… his full vibrato and strong tone firmly established a mood of indulgent melancholy… Wallfisch was again untroubled by the technical demands made of the soloist …” (Haydn Cello Concerto in C | Rossini ”Une Larme” for Cello and Orchestra – Firebird Orchestra, Jonathan Bloxham, cond.)”


“Raphael Wallfisch has complete mastery of this passionate and personal work, pouring forth the Allegro’s gravitas with formidable insight. Melancholic symmetry suffused the central movement, memorably yielding to emotional catharsis.” (Finzi Cello Concerto with Bouremouth Symphony Orchestra)”

Daily Echo

“Raphael’s gloriously rich, sonorous solo lines…”

The Observer

“… Then came the Proms premiere, a mere 104 years after it was written, of Granville Bantock’s Sapphic Poem, for cello and orchestra. Laying out Bantock’s long, singing lines with little apparent effort, soloist Raphael Wallfisch enchanted his audience with the cello’s delightfully mournful tones.”

The Evening Standard

"Wallfisch and the sumptuously recorded Konzerthausorchester Berlin under Nicholas Milton remain firmly persuasive advocates of both concertos".

'Voices from the Wilderness' CD, BBC Music Magazine, February 2018

".. from the Kurt Weill-like song of its slow movement on the double-stopped cello to the swashbuckling spirit of the finale"

'Voices from the Wilderness' CD, Gramophone, February 2018